New Delhi: The Government of India Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Tuesday said creating a simple and hassle-free visa regime is the government’s objective to facilitate the arrival and comfortable stay of foreigners into the country.
Addressing a conference “Streamlining of India’s Visa regime” here, he highlighted various policy initiatives taken to liberalise the visa regime, taking into account the concerns and suggestions made by various Ministries and stakeholders, including Ministries of Civil Aviation, Tourism, Health, Higher Education.
Emphasising that India has the potential to become a global hub for Education and Tourism, Gauba called for a change in the mindset at the field level to make foreigners feel welcome in the country, he said. “A friendly visa regime is also a part of ‘Ease of doing Business’ and at the same time, security should also be strengthened, using technological tools.”
Citing the recently launched e-FRRO module which provides 27 visa related services to foreigners, he said it has been very successful and has obviated the need for foreigners to visit Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) for extending their stay and change of visa status.
e-Visa facility now covers 166 countries and foreigners can obtain online visa within 72 hours for travel related to Tourism, Business, Health, Medical Attendant and Conference purposes, the Home Secretary added.
The number of e-visas issued has seen a tremendous growth during the last four years from 5.17 lakh in 2015 to 21 lakh this year till November 30 which is almost 40 per cent of the total number of visas issued and the figure is soon expected to cross the 50 per cent mark. “Our e-visa regime is one of the best in the world,” he said.
Mentioning some of the other visa liberalisation measures, the Home Secretary cited relaxation introduced in grant of “Internship Visa” which can be obtained by a student while still pursuing a course in the country without remuneration, extension of “Business Visa” beyond five years, conversion of Visa into medical category in an emergency for a foreigner who is already in the country and permission for foreigners who are on long duration visas to attend conferences.
Gauba also said suggestions the made at the conference will provide inputs for further reforms in the visa regime which is an ongoing process.